Marcia’s reFrame #6: Take Time to Pause – Expand Your Point of View

Last spring I attended the American Society for Training and Development International Conference in Washington D. C. It was an incredible experience and I felt like a kid in a candy store with so many tempting choices of trainings and interesting seminars to choose from. There was a vendor in the exhibitors hall that truly captivated my attention.  I saw a group of people group engaged in a dyad activity. They were holding cards with provocative and interesting images. Each card had a word on it.  Some of the words and pictures seemed disconnected; other images were un-nerving and made me uncomfortable while some brought a quick, easy smile and a sense of delight. I just knew I wanted to know more about what they were doing with those cards!

I was invited to participate in an exercise with a partner. We each picked a card and were then asked to dialog about what the picture and the word represented. Here is what I came to learn from the “Coaching Game – Point of You.”

Associative playing cards give participants absolute freedom to shape the game as they see fit, thereby encouraging them to develop an independent and creative approach to their lives.

The photos for each card were carefully selected with the sole agenda of presenting the topic using a visual that isn’t normally associated with the topic, in order to optimally-activate our spectrum of thoughts and feelings. The word represents the logical-analytical thinking that was and is still considered a traditionally male mode of thinking, with the left brain being in charge. The photo represents the emotion, creativity, and intuition of our “female” side, led by the right side of the brain. The polar combination between qualities that are considered female and qualities that are considered male, when joined create a harmonious whole.

The photographs directly appeal to our intuitions and feelings, and occasionally even bypass rational thinking, which screens out those things we’d rather keep at a distance. This quality, considered characteristic of images, enables them to evoke reactions that we find hard to express with words – thereby giving them a magical quality. Just like works of art that affect the observer merely by viewing them or dreams we recall in the morning yet find hard to describe in words, we connect with images on an unconscious, emotional level.

As an organizational consultant and an executive coach, I thought the “Coaching Game – Point of You” was a fabulous tool to help clients explore, focus, and take action. I was so enamored that I decided to become certified as a “Point of You” coach as well as a certified “Train the Trainer.” I am part of an international team of participants and will become one of 80 international certified Train the Trainers by spring of 2015. I am so excited about this tool and would love to share it with you. If you have any interest in experiencing it, please let me know. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate fall than to have time for a cup of coffee, take a moment to pause, have a chance to challenge some of our perceptions, and learn about other possible “Points of You!”

Marcia

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‘The Second Question': Exploring Job Identity

When we meet a new person, the first question we ask is, “What’s your name?”  Something I never consciously picked up on until recently, however, is that the second thing we say to a new person is almost as predictable.

“So, what do you do?”

And there it is: proof that we often form an initial understanding of who someone is largely based on what they’ve chosen as their occupation.  In many ways, this assumption makes sense.  We learn to make a lot of assumptions based on the answer to this question; How much money do you have? What are you interested in? What are your political views? What level of education have you reached?  I can see how asking ‘The Second Question’ early on in the conversation can seem like an efficient way to get a lot of information about who a person is.  “I’m a partner at a law firm,” “I’m a vegan chef,” and “I’m a stay-at-home parent” may each lead to very different conversations.

A potential pitfall here, of course, is that we are making assumptions, which by definition are not always true.  Once we make a judgment or supposition and decide to believe that it is the truth, we may be closing a very important door.  If I’ve already made up my mind about who someone is, I’m a lot less likely to hear anything else they may say to the contrary. I may become blind to the possibility of seeing my new acquaintance as anything other than one-dimensional, and miss an opportunity to know him or her more fully.

This phenomenon also causes me to think about how much of our identities are tied up in what we do for a living.  We answer ‘The Second Question’ with the words “I am,” sometimes allowing the job title that follows to define us.  Taking pride in one’s job, especially when it’s the result of hard work and passion, is certainly a good thing.  The desire for achievement and recognition can motivate people to do amazing, important things.  But it’s no secret that our society is obsessed with financial and professional success, and it’s easy to start to believe that those are the main components by which we should measure our own happiness and value as a human being.  Our jobs are inevitably a part of our identity, after all, we spend a good amount of our lives working, but how big a part is too big?

Life is made up of moving pieces.  Among all the ups and downs, though, we can find stability in a well-rounded identity.   It’s helpful to remember that our value is not wholly reliant on any one job title, relationship, or number.  Take a moment, if you choose, to consider:  How could you answer “The Second Question in a different way?  In addition to your job, what else makes you who you are, and how do you make sure those other parts are being equally nurtured and appreciated?

 

To Your Wellbeing,

The Health Psych Team

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August 29 #HITsm Chat Summary

In case you missed the #HITsm chat last week and wanted to get a summary of the discussion, check out the storify summary below!

Topic were:

#HITsm T1: Knowing that #health is dependent on daily life, how do we design #HealthIT in consideration of the larger, social world?

#HITsm T2: How do we achieve #patientengagement over time considering that a one-off solution can’t fix #health?

#HITsm T3: What game mechanics in #HealthIT are currently being used appropriately? Which are not?

#HITsm T4: What should be made usable by #enterprise #healthIT to ensure the #Human element does not get lost?

#HITsm T5: What design considerations have you seen that work well in #HealthIT / #mHealth?

[View the story "August 29 #HITsm Chat" on Storify]

To our health,
Ryan Lucas

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TotalWellbeing: September 2014

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September 2014:

Intellectual & Environmental Wellbeing

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Are you a product of your environment, or vise versa?

Welcome to the September issue of TotalWellbeing! Labor Day has passed reminding us that we are officially headed into the autumn months. To start the season off we will examine the relationship between our minds and the world around us. The connection here is subtle but profound. As we navigate the world every day we understand our place within it, but in turn we can use what we learn to either look at the world in a different way or transform it entirely. To explore this relationship more closely please read The Connection, below.

If you were watching the MINES blog last month you would have seen an interesting look at the relationship between developmental stages and leadership skills by Dr. Mines. To follow this up our own Health IT guru Ryan Lucas looked at how it truly takes a village to provide a cohesive healthcare system.

If you are following us on our blog and LinkedIn showcase pages, you can expect some great resources and enlightening discussions coming up this next month, so stay tuned and let us know what you think.

 

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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The Connection:

Intellectual & Environmental Wellbeing

Are we a product of our environment or is the environment a product of us? The answer is both. Our environment shapes many things about us. The farther back we go the more influence the environment had over the human race. Our diet, behavior, and methods of survival were all dependent on the environment. As time passed and we developed a more thorough understanding of the world around us, and technological capabilities grew, we started to shift the balance more to our favor. Today, our mind’s perception can alter how we view our environment, and to a greater extent our minds have helped our species shape the world to our liking unlike anything has ever been able to do before. But we must not forget to respect our environment as we will never be totally in control, and must preserve our environment in order to ensure it provides a livable world for generations to come.

Intellectual Wellbeing

Environmental Wellbeing

Ways to Increase IntelligenceHappy and beautiful woman

Having a Healthy Relationship… with the Environment

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Do you ever feel less intelligent around other people? Are you embarrassed when you don’t know the answer to a question? Most of us have those times when they just feel like they don’t know anything. Of course, you can’t know everything, but no matter how smart you are, you can start becoming more intelligent today by actively focusing on enhancing the skills that aid intelligence!To access this tool, click here. Humans interact with the environment constantly. These interactions affect quality of life, years of healthy life lived, and health disparities. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines environment, as it relates to health, as “all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related behaviors.” Environmental health consists of preventing or controlling disease, injury, and disability related to the interactions between people and their environment.To read the full article, click here.

 

 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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Health inSite: Healthcare is not just about the people who work in HealthIT, it’s about everyone…

This posting was originally published by one of our associates on xchangehealth.wordpress.com

Special thanks to the many influences that have contributed, directly or indirectly, to my questions leading into this #HITsm chat: @leonardkish@ochotex @avantgame @gzicherm@connected_book @paullikeme @robertamines@kellymcgonigal @joepine @hankgreen

Intro

I’ll be moderating the #HITsm chat on August 28th at 10am MDT and wanted to put together a couple of thoughts related to the topic before going into the chat. Maybe you’ll find these useful. Also, feel free to join us if you are interested in the topic. The more the merrier! Toward that end, let’s have a discussion about what we, in #HealthIT can do to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of those who are our end-users.

Considerations should include #EHR & #App design from #Payer, #Provider, #Patient, and #Peer per this posting on #4PHealth.

It’s the convergence of all four P’s (Provider, Payer, Patient, and that Patient’s Peers) that will allow for greater healthcare reach. When the Payer and the Provider are able to engage the Patient’s Peers, then true health generation is possible and the benefits of one’s social network can then be fully leveraged.

People:Person Design

We have historically looked at healthcare (and by extension, #HealthIT) as though it exists outside the “natural” world, or as though health is outside the realm of our social experience. Yet, we know that health is not divergent from our health reality or our everyday lives.

Healthy behavior is not dependent on what payment models, medical technology, or other innovations come about in the healthcare debate.  We know that your friend’s friend has a great impact on what you do – and vice versa.

How do we reconverge these two realities knowing that what we do in our daily lives result in healthcare outcomes? Framed differently, how do we leverage the way we make decisions every day in considering how #HealthIT is designed?

Our health is not our own. We are bound to others, near and far, and by each decision and every sharing of those decisions, we birth our health.

#HITsm T1: Knowing that #health is dependent on daily life, how do we design #HealthIT in consideration of the larger, social world?

Cognitive Bias, Iterative Decision-making, Behavioral Economics, Game-Theory

Considering the depth of our knowledge related to cognitive bias, are we considerate of this branch of psychology in design? Knowing what we know about iterative decision-making (that decisions have to be made in sequence, often after new or different information) how do we prepare adaptive #HealthIT that responds to new information as it becomes available, like it does for Human Beings? For details on Cognitive Bias and Decision-making, see here and here. For Game Theory (including iterative decision-making), see here.  

So what does a salutogenic framework look like?  Mindfulness, resilience, focus on daily health-promoting activities that increase our ability to get healthier, rather than fend off illness.  Of course, a fee-for-service model doesn’t bode well with this concept, so unless you’re enrolled in a highly visionary health promotion healthcare system, you’re probably on your own – for now.  

Antonovsky’s explanation of Salutogenesis was well depicted by a river.  His concern with the current model of health (Pathogenesis) is that it’s generally believed that we are healthy from the beginning but that because of environmental / circumstantial events, we become sick.  Antonovsky expressed this as a river, where all healthy people stand on the bank, safe from the raging river’s flow.  Once one stepped into the river – got sick – then something needed to be done.  Salutogenesis, however, sees all people already in the river; but at different distances from the mouth.

There are some obvious benefits to these advances in Health IT, but one of the things that may not be fully clear yet is the application of Watson to understanding more about human behavior. While Watson can absolutely tell a clinician the likelihood of a set of symptoms’ association with a given disease, I’ll bet Watson can’t tell you how the patients’ family impacts their overall wellbeing through behavior reinforcement. If Watson knew who the patients’ workout buddy was, Watson might be able to help identify with a high confidence whether that workout buddy was a statistically-sound partner in the overall health management of the patient. Further, Watson would be able to weigh in on the evaluation of treatment adherence based on real-time data pouring into the health record for the given individual.  This is the game state evaluation of the health of the individual in a real and meaningful way.  With this, a total and complete understanding of the long-term treatment of chronic conditions (and even more important to the salutogenic framework that I’ve discussed previously in this blog series, total health production) through the understanding of actual human behavior devoid of the clinical separation from reality is the “social human” version of epigenetics that will become more useful in the coming years.  This is where the data comes to life.

#HITsm T2: How do we achieve #patientengagement over time considering that a one-off solution can’t fix #health?

Gamification

A recent post mentioned that Gamification is failing due to a lack of accurately applying the concepts of gamification; in short, supplanting “badges” for increasing levels of difficulty appropriately. If Gamification is going to solve the #engagement problem, why can’t we quite figure this out? Gamification in health, generally, see here.

Whether we admit it or not, it is the promise of the potential emotional pay-off that lures us into working ridiculous hours already. But unlike gaming environments where we are totally immersed, our modern work environments seem contorted — almost criminally — to keep us from feeling blissfully productive. And once we give up hope that epic wins are possible, our careers turn into drudgery.

It takes more than a website to do this – including focus on using the resources available to a company’s natural habitat, the worksite, to engage employees during the 40 hour work week, and more, by creating a story.  As described in the burgeoning world of Alternate Reality Games and Transmedia Storytelling, the ability to tell a cooperative narrative – on and offline – among those with which you work is an opportunity to actively create health, the benchmark of Salutogenesis.  When you have many platforms for engaging in this storytelling, you increase the modes of access to actively engage all employees where they are, rather than forcing them into a platform that they may not be comfortable with, or is not ideal for their way of engaging in their health generating behaviors.

 #HITsm T3: What game mechanics in #HealthIT are currently being used appropriately? Which are not?

Integration with the larger #healthIT world

Specifically looking at the #payer and #provider perspective, how can we ensure that the same #psych principles are being used to ensure adoption of #HealthIT throughout the Healthcare continuum? When we consider #wearables and #IoT, what do we focus on in terms of integration versus simple cataloging?

#HITsm T4: What should be made usable by #enterprise #healthIT to ensure the #Human element does not get lost?

Free-for-all on Design

#HITsm T5: What design considerations have you seen that work well in #HealthIT / #mHealth?

In review:

#HITsm T1: Knowing that #health is dependent on daily life, how do we design #HealthIT in consideration of the larger, social world?

#HITsm T2: How do we achieve #patientengagement over time considering that a one-off solution can’t fix #health?

#HITsm T3: What game mechanics in #HealthIT are currently being used appropriately? Which are not?

#HITsm T4: What should be made usable by #enterprise #healthIT to ensure the #Human element does not get lost?

#HITsm T5: What design considerations have you seen that work well in #HealthIT / #mHealth?

To our health,

Ryan Lucas
Manager, Engagement & Development

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TotalWellbeing: August 2014

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August 2014: Intellectual & Physical Wellbeing

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Peace of Mind & Body!

Welcome to the August issue of TotalWellbeing! This time we look at the ever important link between the body and the mind. All too often we think of mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing as a disjointed relationship when in fact the two should be inseparable. Not only are the mind and body dependent on the other, but the wellbeing of one is indisputably affected by the wellbeing of the other. To explore this relationship more closely please read The Connection, below.

Towards the end of July the MINES blog saw a surge of activity. We had a 2 part look into an increasingly important organizational topic, Generational Differences. The first post from our HR specialist Daniel Kimlinger looked at addressing concerns current organizations have particularly as older generations are working more and more with younger workers that have different wants and needs than they do. As a follow up, one of MINES’ Account Managers, Patrick Hiester, discussed the scope and relevant dimensions of the generational gap topic. Then of course we had our monthly dose of inspiration from “Marcia’s reFrame” highlighting the incredible power of having the support of your loved ones behind you.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer as kids start going back to school and neighborhood pools start to call it a year. But even if the ice cream trucks won’t be coming around for much longer we will still be here to keep you on track with plenty of resources. To stay on top of it all please visit our blog, and follow us on our LinkedIn showcase pages.

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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The Connection: Intellectual & Physical Wellbeing

Many practices around the world including yoga, meditation, holistic practices, Tai Chi, mindfulness techniques, and many others focus on bringing the mind and body together into harmony. Many dedicate their whole lives to these practices, and rightfully so! The mind/body connection is vital to understanding ourselves and our place in the world. Just having an awareness of this connection is a huge first step in achieving balance and finding lifelong peace and happiness. It’s not all about finding balance though, as some things are out of our control such as certain health issues like injuries or disease. If the mind is not well the body will suffer, and vice versa, and when struck with a disease or injury it can have a compounding effect on both physical and intellectual wellbeing.

Physical Wellbeing

Intellectual Wellbeing

Easy Exercise Tips

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Intellectual Health Tips & Assessment

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Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways of improving both your physical and mental health. A little regular exercise can ease depression and anxiety, boost energy and mood, and relieve stress. But you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. No matter your age or fitness level, there are lots of enjoyable ways to use physical activity to help you feel better, look better, and enjoy life more!

To access this tool, click here.

Your intellectual health and wellness involves your ability to think clearly and realistically, to have more positive thoughts than negative ones, to be able to pay attention appropriately, to have good short and long term memory, and to value learning over your entire lifetime. To be intellectually healthy, you are involved in activities that increase knowledge, moral reasoning, and mental agility.

To read the full article, click here.

 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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Psychology of Performance #48: Developmental Stages Versus Skills in Leaders by Managerial Hierarchy

A challenging question for every organization is: how do we develop/train our leaders at every level in the organization? There are assumptions that leadership is composed of a set of skills or processes. Zenger and Folkman present data in the table below from a wonderful blog regarding C-level officers, managers, supervisors’ perceptions of leadership skills, and qualities necessary to do their job. This blog attempts to sort out the variables into categories that can be used for assessment and intervention.

Character qualities such as integrity, honesty, drive, engaging in self-development, or taking initiative are most likely not trainable or teachable. They are qualities that develop over the person’s life time. These are qualities to be assessed when you hire the individual as you are not going to have much of an impact on developing character by the time they enter the work world.

Inspiring and motivating others, communicating, building relationships, developing others, and connecting the group to the outside world are all related to a complex set of verbal, written, group facilitation, and teaching skills in addition to the ability to assess team members strengths and weaknesses. Skills are assumed to be teachable and competency can be assessed; therefore, it is important to think through how you would teach these types of skills as part of a professional development plan.

Complex problem solving and analysis are a combination of adult cognitive developmental complexity and having the analytic, evaluative, and probabilistic reasoning methodologies. Mines, King, Hood, and Wood (1990) found that there are qualitative differences in complex reasoning as well as critical thinking skill differences. Elliot Jacques’ work also demonstrated that cognitive complexity, which he defined in terms of time span of projects, also increased throughout the managerial hierarchy. The role of strategic thinking also has cognitive complexity elements to the process. These types of processes require a base of methodology knowledge and practice scenarios with feedback from those with more complexity.

Finally, the ability to innovate and develop stretch goals may be related not only to the culture of the organization interacting with actual creative skills but also risk aversion and other cognitive bias elements. All of these factors interact in a given individual and present a complex assessment and development challenge for management who have an eye on succession planning and staff development.

http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/07/the-skills-leaders-need-at-every-level/?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow

whatleadershipskills

 

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Have a day filled with kindness!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO

 

Levels of Intellectual Development and Associated Critical Thinking Skills in College Students

Mines, R.A., Hood, A., King, P., & Wood, P., (1990). Journal of College Student Development, 31 538-547.

 

 

 


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Bridging the Gap # 3

If the first half of your 2014 was anything like it was here at MINES, it was jam-packed with exciting changes and new prospects. But don’t worry if the year has not been as busy as you’d prefer since we still have nearly half a year of opportunity before 2015. So take a deep breath, relax, and continue to strive for balance and wellbeing in your life as we tackle Q3 together; but before we go forward, let’s look backwards for a moment.

As usual, “Bridging the Gap” aims to take everything MINES has been going on about for the last quarter and break down the topics and the connections that they have with one another, as well as your life and the lives of those around you, to make sure that the information we share can have the best possible impact on your view of wellbeing, and bring balance into your life every day. The second quarter of 2014 saw MINES introduce a whole host of new resources, inspirational stories, and wellbeing topics. Let’s start with the wellbeing topics first.

In April, we introduced all new wellbeing topics: intellectual and social wellbeing. While exploring these topics we looked at the importance of being mindful of the influence that your friends, family, and society in general have on your cognitive processes. Next, in May we continued our examination of intellectual wellbeing, this time looking at its connection with financial wellbeing. We looked at the complex implications these two topics have on each other on the individual as well as societal levels.Then in June, financial wellbeing carried over and was analyzed alongside social wellbeing. We looked at social circles and our financial statuses effect on one another as we interact in our social lives. Finally, earlier this month we linked physical wellbeing with a completely fresh topic, environmental wellbeing, prompting a look at our physical self and its place in the world around us.

As our readers have come to expect from our blog, last quarter was filled with a wide array of diverse content from all corners of the MINES Team. Dr. Robert Mines chimed in with posts on Overcoming Adversity, Compassion, and the Psychology of Diabetes. Marcia Kent’s ever-inspirational “reFrame” covered hikes up Mt. Kilimanjaro and how to get the most out of all 1,440 seconds in a day. One of our case managers, Heather DeKeyser, also contributed with a compelling look at resilience and its role in our lives as both an internal resource as well as a trait we look for in others to help guide us.

MINES has a whole assortment of thought-provoking, and inspirational content headed your way over the next few months. There are plenty more topics in the pipeline and connections to be made. On our blog you can look forward to many new stories and ideas starting right away with members of our BizPsych team taking a multi-angled look at questions and trends they see while training organizations on generational differences, with much more to come from the rest of MINES.

Whew! That’s about it for now but if you have questions or comments about this or anything else MINES is up to please let us know, we would love to hear from you. You can comment on our posts here or don’t forget to email us and let us know what is on your mind. See you next time!

To your total wellbeing

-The MINES Team

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Generations Training Onslaught: Part Two

I want to add a few dimensions to Dani’s blog about our “onslaught” of training requests regarding generational issues in the workplace. The first is an observation about the process of facilitating these events; I am a semi-typical baby boomer. Dani is a pretty typical Gen Y. As we have prepared, discussed and engaged multiple clients in this topic, we have explored our own tendencies, biases and patterns. We have been able to present much of this openly in sessions with clients. It has not only been fun, but also increased our own empathy as well as clients. As we have fun teasing one another about the generational stereotypes it seems to open up insight and discussion in the sessions. There is a sense of denial and/or political correctness that takes some pushing through to help people acknowledge some of the true obstacles they carry around this issue. This is a primary first step for us to engage in this topic in a meaningful way, both for ourselves and clients.

The second dimension for us to consider is: “why does this topic seem to have renewed fervor at this time”. I’m not sure we have gotten a good answer to this question yet; only that it does seem to be so. I recently attended the ASTD (now ATD –Association for Talent Development) conference in Washington DC. This is THE international conference in training and development. There were multiple sessions devoted to this topic, including some forefront writers. Possibly the current movement of generations is a factor; Baby Boomers starting to move out & retire- Gen X and Y much more prevalent in the workforce and in leadership positions. I think the best way to address it is to ask you: Do you see this becoming a critical issue in your organization and what are you doing to address it?

The final dimension I want to add in line with the theme of BizPsych’s blogs for this year is what have we actually done to promote meaningful change in our training sessions. Truly, process we have initiated in these trainings was borrowed from a training on this topic I attended a number of years ago. This presention was at our local EAP Association meeting. I have been extremely interested in this topic for a long time and attended many trainings on the topic. Always interesting but they left me a little flat i.e. so, we talked about the stereotype differences between generations & why they are there, but what now? In the training at our EAPA chapter they put together a panel representing each generation. Now that was inspiring! I walked away with some truly changed beliefs and experiences.

So, we have incorporated this concept into all of our presentations. We put together a panel before the training of representatives from each generation. We discuss the issues related to this topic that are real and relevant to their particular work culture. We have created questions for the panelists to explore and meet ahead of the training to prepare the discussion. Fantastic insights have emerged from these discussions both in the prep meeting and training itself. A few of these were:

  • From a Baby Boomer in a very traditional culture: ‘Maybe I need to reconsider my resistance to requests for remote work and focus more on results than butts in the seat…”
  • From a Gen X: ‘I realized that the Gen Y’s I was supervising wanted direction from me about their career development, but always with their input…”
  • From a Gen Y: instead of focusing on Baby Boomers just resisting change, perhaps we can honor the best of the past and engage in their ability to adapt…”

 

- Patrick Hiester

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Marcia’s reFrame #5: The Mount Marathon

MT.-MARATHON-FEET.

The Mount Marathon event, an athletically dazzling feat of speed and agility held on Mount Marathon in Seward, Alaska, captured my imagination when I heard a story about it on NPR on my way home from work. Melissa Block was interviewing Christy Marvin, a mother of three young children, who was the winner in the women’s division last year.

Legend has it that the event started as a bet between two sailors.  Race 3,022 feet to the top of Mount Marathon and back down in an hour. The first attempt in 1908 was a failure. Today, hundreds do whatever it takes to survive the challenge of the summiting and returning from the Mount.

Leading racers will typically reach the peak in 33–40 minutes and reach the finish line from the peak down in 10–15 minutes. Average speed uphill is 2 mph. Average speed downhill is 12 mph. It is not uncommon for the racers crossing the finish line to be injured or bleeding and covered in mud.

The names of the various routes give you an idea of just how challenging this event is! “The roots” is a tangled, jungle-like ascent up narrow path ways; “The cliffs” is a steep, rocky path full of loose, sharp rocks called “scree” where one wrong step can be disastrous. And “the gut”, is the most daunting part of the rock to some racers because this is where most of the injuries take place. As one runner described it, “The Mountain is a delicate dance of control, courage and perhaps a little bit of crazy.”

Picture 13

Melissa asked Christy a number of questions including the universal question, “Why, in the world would anyone want to do something like this?” Runners have fallen off cliffs, broken multiple bones and a few have perished, never to be found. Christy described how being in the mountains connects her to her values, the thrill of the adventure and the satisfaction of preparing for the run.  Melissa asked her how she trains for this event given that she has three young children. Christy shared that she would often bring her children along when she would train. She talked about the various training techniques including “hill training” which involves repeated runs up and down the same hill.

Christy described one training session when she placed her youngest son, who was two years old at the time, on top of the hill.  “I just didn’t feel like I had it in me to do another hill. I was tired and didn’t feel like pushing myself that day. All of sudden, I saw my 2 year old clapping his hands and him heard him scream out loud, “Dig, Mama, Dig”! There was no way I was going to let my son down and so I dug as hard as I could to run up that hill!”

Inspiration, encouragement and support can sometimes come from the most unlikely of places. We all have our versions of a Mount Marathon; An epic project, a problematic situation at home, a challenging colleague or an unreasonable and demanding client that seems impossible to please.

This month, I encourage you to honor that you have what it takes to “dig” and go the distance. Celebrate and remember the times in your life when you did just that!  Invite people to be your cheerleaders, support you with wild optimism and unbridled enthusiasm as you tackle your version of “Mount Marathon.”

By sharing your goals and your vision, you just might hear an unexpected voice cheering you on, encouraging you and telling you that YOU have what it takes “to dig and go the distance.”

Here’s to you having the confidence, healthy mindset and inner strength to be able to “dig” when you need to!

Marcia

 

*Photo provided by Ron Niebrugge/www.WildNatureImages.com

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